By Micheal Garang (NewsLeader East Africa Bureau Chief, in Nairobi, Kenya)
Something new happened in East Africa's Republic of Kenya, as Nokia and Safaricom launched East Africa's first commercial 5G services.
The 5G technology will enable new applications in areas such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence for Safaricom subscribers.
5G radio and FastMile 5G gateways provide ultra-fast Fixed Wireless Access services to subscribers; Safaricom also showcased 5G hologram and UHD video communication using live 5G network.
Nokia has announced today that it is powering East Africa’s first 5G commercial services with Safaricom, the leading telecoms operator in the country. Nokia’s 5G Single Radio Access Network (SRAN) technology and 5G FastMile gateways enable ultra-fast Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services to Safaricom’s subscribers across Kisumu and the Western Province of Kenya.
5G technology will enable new applications in areas such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence for Safaricom subscribers. It will also benefit enterprises across important energy, healthcare, education, transport, and entertainment applications.
At a launch event in Nairobi, Safaricom showcased the capabilities of the 5G network with three use cases -- 5G hologram, Ultra-HD video communication, and virtual fashion shopping. In the hologram showcase, the live 5G network was used to teleport Safaricom’s executives from the Safaricom office in Kisumu to the launch event in Nairobi. And in the second showcase, Ultra-HD video communication was made using the 5G Fixed Wireless Access connectivity powered by WiFi-6 with Nokia Beacon 6. The third showcase of virtual shopping will change the shopping experience allowing users to try on clothes "virtually".
Nokia has leveraged its AirScale SRAN platform to enable ultra-low latency, huge connectivity, and an extreme capacity to support the demands of today and tomorrow. The 5G network utilizes massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) radio to improve spectral efficiency and throughput capacity, maximizing the return on Safaricom’s RAN investment. In addition, Nokia’s FastMile 5G gateway provides fiber-like speeds for fixed wireless services to subscribers. Also, the company’s network planning, deployment, and integration services ensured timely rollout of the network.
As part of the network, Nokia 5G Cloud Mobility Manager delivers the scalability, flexibility, high availability, and performance needed to support the growth of mobile and enterprise services. Nokia’s NetAct network management system helps Safaricom have a consolidated network view for improved network monitoring and management.
Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom, said: "We are proud to be the first operator in East Africa to launch 5G services, bringing the benefits of 5G technology to our customers. 5G capabilities will change a lot of things in unimaginable ways for people and enterprises, playing a key role in fulfilling our vision to transform lives. Our long-term partner Nokia’s technologies and services expertise helped us achieve this milestone in our journey to provide world-class broadband services to our customers.”
Amr K.El Leithy, SVP, Middle East and Africa Market, Nokia, said: "With over 200 commercial 5G agreements with leading customers across the globe, Nokia has been bringing 5G network to every part of the world. Our 5G network for Safaricom is a key part of this journey and we are committed to working with the operator to transform the communications landscape in the country. This will open new business opportunities for Safaricom.” NNL.